Place the potatoes in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Put over medium-high heat to bring to a boil.
Once boiling, heavily salt the water with 3 t-spoons (1 tablespoon) of the salt, stir to mix the salt in and let it boil for just a minute before dropping the heat to low and simmering, uncovered, for 15 – 20 minutes. The potatoes should be VERY fork-tender (meaning, when poked with a fork and lifted out of the water, they slide off effortlessly).
When the potatoes have about 5 minutes left put the milk and cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, until scalding.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and shake them dry. Add them back to the pan and put back over medium heat just for a minute or two to help dry them out.
Turn the heat off and, with a potato masher or hand mixer, stir, beat or mash the potatoes with a little vigor and force, slowly pouring in a generous splosh of the scalded milk and cream. Once some of the cream has incorporated into the potatoes, plop in a tablespoon of butter and continue to beat in until its melted, seamlessly, into the potatoes. Continue this alteration until you reach the consistency you want.
If the potatoes are at the consistency you want but feel like they need a little more creaminess and richness, crack in the egg and beat everything vigorously to incorporate it into the potatoes. This also works if you feel like they need a little more fluff—though do use the mixer or whisk to help incorporate a little more air.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
INSPIRATION & VARIATIONS ON PERFECT MASHED POTATOES FOR ANY OCCASION
Baked Mashed Potatoes Add an additional 2 tablespoons - ¼ cup or so of cream to the potatoes (just enough to loosen them a bit) and turn into a buttered casserole dish (something where the potatoes aren’t piled higher than about 2”). Bake at 350° for 20 – 25 minutes. Brush the top with approx. 2 tablespoons melted butter, turn the heat to 450° and bake just another 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Scallion Mashed Potatoes My maternal grandma made this all the time when I was growing up. It’s simple but you can’t argue with its instant calming affects. After draining the potatoes, melted 2 (additional) tablespoons of butter in the pot. Finely slice the white parts only of 6 green onions and sauté in the butter until soft and slightly caramelized – about 2 – 3 minutes. Add the potatoes in and follow the standard recipe above. Fold in the green parts of the scallions, finely sliced, and serve.
You could also add a few t-spoons of prepared horseradish to this variation to serve along side some good steak or medium-rare roasted tenderloin to harken the affect of prime rib and horseradish.
Cheddar-Chive Mashed Potatoes To the original recipe, add 2 smashed cloves of garlic to the potatoes in the water while they cook. Once cooked, drained and dried, add the original amount of cream along with ½ cup full-fat sour cream (in place of whole milk). Replace 1 tablespoon of the butter with 1 tablespoon of jarred, frozen bacon fat (which, I guess, is optional but highly recommended). Stir in ¼ - 1/3 cup minced chives and a heaping cup of shredded extra sharp cheddar. Check for seasoning – it may need a few more pinches of salt and pepper – and serve. You could certainly cook up some bacon, too – that never hurts.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes Cut the very top off a head of garlic, coat liberally in olive oil and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Place into the oven and set for 350°. Roast for about an hour once the oven comes up to temperature. Put 2 cloves of minced garlic in with the potatoes and water. Follow the standard recipe. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the bulb onto a cutting board and smash with the flat of your knife, mincing and smashing to work into a paste. Add to the potatoes with the cream, milk and butter and serve.
You can also add Parmesan with some minced parsley, rosemary and/or thyme.